Picture of author.

T. E. Lawrence (1888–1935)

Author of Seven Pillars of Wisdom

95+ Works 6,996 Members 75 Reviews 14 Favorited

About the Author

Born in Caernarvonshire in North Wales and educated at Oxford University, T. E. Lawrence was a soldier, author, archaeologist, traveler, and translator. After participating in archaeological expeditions in the Middle East from 1911 to 1914, he worked for British Army intelligence in North Africa show more during World War I. In 1916 he joined the Arab revolt against the Turks and became known as Lawrence of Arabia, the man who freed the Arabs from Turkish rule. The manuscript of his The Seven Pillars of Wisdom (1926) was lost when it had been two-thirds finished, and he rewrote the book from memory in 1919. Because it expressed certain personal and political opinions that Lawrence did not wish to publicize, it was offered for sale in 1926 in England at a prohibitive price. To ensure copyright in the United States, it was reprinted here by Doran (now Doubleday) and 10 copies were offered for sale at $20,000 each, a price "high enough to prevent their ever being sold." Doubleday then brought out a limited edition and a trade edition, substantially the same as the rare 1926 edition.Revolt in the Desert (1927) is an abridgment of The Seven Pillars, which the author made to pay the printing expenses of the original. The Mint (1955), an account of his service with the Royal Air Force, was published posthumously in an edition of 50 copies, 10 of which were offered for sale at a price of $500,000 each, to ensure no copies being sold. In 1950 a popular edition, in 1955 a limited edition, and in 1963 a paperback edition were published. After World War I, Lawrence enlisted in the Royal Air Force as Private John Hume Ross; when his real identity was discovered, he transferred to the Royal Tank Corps under the name T. E. Shaw, a name he legally assumed in 1927. In 1937 Lawrence was killed when the motorbike given to him by George Bernard Shaw (see Vol. 1) went out of control on an English country lane. Earlier biographers, including Lowell Thomas and Robert Graves, were enthusiastic and laudatory of Lawrence. Twenty years after his death, Richard Aldington wrote Lawrence of Arabia: A Biographical Enquiry, which "set off a fury of charge and countercharge." But Lawrence's saga had become legend. In tribute to this adventurous, enigmatic genius, who shunned fame, wealth, and power, King George V wrote, "His name will live in history." Public interest in "the elusive, mysterious and complex young Irishman" who led the Arab revolt was revived by Lawrence of Arabia, 1962's most honored film. In recent years the picture of Lawrence has changed again with the revelation of his illegitimacy, his readiness to embroider the truth, and other quirks and neuroses; but there were English witnesses to many of his accomplishments, and the disagreements among those who knew him have hindered efforts to discredit him in any definitive manner; even the Arabs view him with their Arab pride at stake. He remains enigmatic and eccentric, and is likely to be the subject of more research and many volumes before the truth about him is finally and fully understood. (Bowker Author Biography) show less
Image credit: Image from With Lawrence In Arabia (1924) by Lowell Thomas (cropped)

Works by T. E. Lawrence

Seven Pillars of Wisdom (1922) — Author — 4,745 copies
Revolt in the Desert (1927) 807 copies
The Mint (1955) 307 copies
Crusader Castles (1986) 172 copies
The essential T.E. Lawrence (1951) 94 copies
27 Articles (2017) 37 copies
The Evolution of a Revolt (1920) 27 copies
The Wilderness of Zin (1914) — Author — 20 copies
Oriental Assembly (1939) — Author; Photographer — 19 copies
Minorities (1971) 19 copies
Guerriglia-Guerrilla (2002) 8 copies
Lawrence de Arabia (1995) 6 copies
Letters to E.T. Leeds (1988) 5 copies
Uomini nel deserto (2017) 2 copies
Vedere la Giordania (1990) 1 copy
Across 1 copy
Opere 1 copy
Lettres 1 copy
Dispacci segreti (1988) 1 copy

Associated Works

The Odyssey (0750) — Translator, some editions; Translator, some editions — 52,456 copies
The Spy's Bedside Book (1957) — Contributor — 352 copies
Travels in Arabia Deserta (1888) — Introduction, some editions — 308 copies
Men at War: The Best War Stories of All Time (1942) — Contributor — 284 copies
The Penguin Book of Homosexual Verse (1983) — Contributor — 235 copies
The Twilight of the Gods (1888) — Introduction, some editions — 165 copies
Passages from Arabia Deserta (1931) — Introduction, some editions — 126 copies
The Mammoth Book of True War Stories (1992) — Contributor — 87 copies
The Voyages of Ulysses: A Photographic Interpretation of Homer's Classic (1961) — Translator, some editions — 57 copies
Arabia Felix (1932) — Foreword, some editions — 37 copies


(1,871) adventure (366) ancient (356) Ancient Greece (859) Ancient Greek (223) ancient literature (255) antiquity (232) Arabia (228) autobiography (305) biography (380) classic (1,494) classic literature (286) classical (269) classical literature (390) classics (3,007) epic (1,228) epic poetry (758) fiction (2,561) Folio Society (309) Greece (928) Greek (1,428) Greek literature (799) Greek mythology (509) history (1,223) Homer (1,086) Lawrence of Arabia (345) literature (1,615) memoir (308) Middle East (459) non-fiction (474) Odysseus (285) Odyssey (288) poetry (3,245) read (478) to-read (1,410) translation (439) travel (224) unread (226) war (227) WWI (548)

Common Knowledge



Seven Pillars of Wisdom reading group anyone? in Folio Society Devotees (May 2015)


I think it was shortly after the movie "Lawrence of Arabia" was released in 1963 that I was inspired by the movie to find out more about Lawrence. So I bought and read "Seven Pillars of Wisdom" and was blown away by the erudition of the man.....his poetic descriptions of the landscapes and his knowledge of the geology and rock types, his casual literary allusions ...and of course, the sheer....."Boys Own Annual" style of adventures that he was involved in. Yet there was something wistfully sad about the guy and his life ended so young (46). Both the movie and the book hinted at his homosexuality and, I guess, that was a real problem for him at the time. But, with the current book I am equally blown away by his youthful exuberance, his energy ...and again, his erudition. He writes beautifully even as a 18-20 year year old travelling in France. His letters to his mother are quite amazing in terms of detailed analysis of castles and keeps ...though not much of a personal nature. And I found myself wondering who exactly was his mother ....would she really understand all of this stuff? Maybe...but maybe not. There is a note written by his mother for the book and it seems remarkably plain and unadorned compared with Lawrence's own writings. Then I discovered that his father had left his first wife and four daughters and had taken up with the governess of the daughters. He had five (illegitimate) sons with the governess and they lived under the name of Lawrence. Actually, his father's name was Thomas Chapman and mother's name Sarah Junner. Though there is a story that Sarah's mother became pregnant to her employer (surname Lawrence) whilst working as a domestic. So all in all a fairly complex family background. But, apparently his father inspired in young Thomas Edward a love of antiquities, photography and bicycle riding. All of which he put to great use in the production of his thesis for part of his final exam at the University of Oxford for his Bachelor of Arts in Modern History. Not surprisingly ...he was awarded first class honours.
The first part of the book is really pretty much a travelogue of his explorations in Palestine and the crusader and arab castles there. The second section is a similar account of castles in France and England and the third part....in some ways the more interesting to me ....were his letters home to his mother about his various travels by bicycle in France and on foot in Palestine. Amazing when you consider that he was only around 19-20 years old when carrying out this research.
The thrust of the thesis is that, contrary to the accepted opinions of the time, The crusaders did not arrive in Palestine and absorb the secrets of military architecture from there and then transplant it to Europe. Rather it was the other way around.....the crusaders took their knowledge of proven structures from Europe to Palestine. If I was critiquing the thesis, I would suggest that there is a lot of text and conjecture that all comes together in a rush in the last paragraph of each section. And he seems to rely over-heavily on a single feature ....the mâchicoulis on the side of castles (an overhanging section that could be used for dropping rocks on besiegers below). Apparently, according to Lawrence, the arabs didn't have these before the crusaders arrived. He is also convinced that the crusaders took the idea of a stronghold (or keep) within the castle walls to the middle east. And he is very negative about the effectiveness of a keep. He comments that once the ouster walls of a castle were breached the survival of the inhabitants of the keep was rather doubtful. And the absence of keeps in pre-crusader castles, he takes as evidence that the movement of ideas was from Europe to the middle east rather than the other way around.
Actually, I think he has a rather difficult job. He was visiting castles around 1908-1909....about 700-800 years after they were constructed. Frequently they were constructed over pre-existing strongholds ...so adapted what was already there. And then the strongholds were attacked and changed hands multiple times between crusaders and arabs and, over the last 700 years, they may have been part destroyed, or mined for their cut stone, re-developed for more modern warfare etc. In France, by the time Lawrence was riding his bike around the countryside (and his coverage is truly remarkable) many of the big castles had been restored by Viollet le Duc or others ...or were currently occupied as grand houses. Anyway, the bottom line is that it is exceedingly difficult to ascertain exactly what was the layout in the crusader times.
But, I have to admit to being quite gob-smacked by the sheer distance that Lawrence managed to cover in France on a couple of bicycle tours and in Palestine-Syria on foot. He went up and down and across both countries and inspected and documented a vast number of military installations.
I can't believe that his knowledge of castles....as exhibited in his letter to his mother from Colchester in August 1905 (when he would have been just shy of 18 years old) was normal for a boy of that age. Perhaps there was a touch of autism there with the incredibly detailed focus on the subject of antiquities. But he certainly knew a lot and simply by visiting and personally studying closely (and mapping) ...37 castles in Palestine and Syria and 52 (in France by my count) ....plus more in Wales and England....he was probably the world authority of crusader military architecture at the time. There is one interesting throw away line in one of his letters where he says: "here I am Arab in habits, and slip in talking from English to French and Arabic unnoticing". Clearly he was picking up the languages as he went. Though I did notice that at one of his stops in France he was unable to obtain accommodation and so looked up "the Chaignons..where there was a most enthusiastic welcome". So it seems to me that maybe the family had spent much more time previously in France. (I can't help feeling a little envious of the opportunity to travel in France so readily in one's school holidays). And he also seems to have had a little bit of extra help with his travels in Palestine and Syria. (Staying with the Governors and having mounted military escorts....who was paying for all this?)
Overall, I found it a fascinating read. The Folio Society have done an excellent job with this edition. The maps and drawings are great and the photos also great. Clearly Lawrence had picked up a few tips from his dad on taking photos in 1908-09.. It seems that one of his brothers (A W Lawrence) had a fairly large role in pulling all the original material together for publication. Easily worth five stars from me.
… (more)
booktsunami | Sep 2, 2023 |
"Revolt in the Desert" is a memoir written by T.E. Lawrence, better known as Lawrence of Arabia. Published in 1927, the book recounts Lawrence's experiences during the Arab Revolt against the Ottoman Empire in the Middle East during World War I.

Lawrence's narrative takes readers on a remarkable journey through the deserts of Arabia, where he played a pivotal role in uniting various Arab tribes against the common enemy. He vividly describes the challenges faced by the Arab forces, including battles, guerilla warfare, and strategic maneuvers. Lawrence provides a detailed account of the Arab Revolt, shedding light on the political and military strategies employed, as well as the complexities of Arab tribal dynamics.

The book offers valuable insights into Lawrence's role as a military advisor to Arab leaders, his interactions with key figures such as Emir Faisal, and his efforts to gain support for the Arab cause from the British government. It delves into the cultural and social aspects of Arab society, as well as the harsh and unforgiving desert landscapes that served as the backdrop for the revolt.

"Revolt in the Desert" is not merely a historical account but also a personal reflection on Lawrence's own experiences and emotions throughout the campaign. It explores his deep admiration for Arab culture and his belief in their potential for self-governance. The book also examines the impact of colonialism, international politics, and the shifting alliances of World War I on the Arab Revolt and the broader Middle East.

Lawrence's writing style is captivating, combining vivid descriptions, insightful observations, and a touch of literary flair. His ability to convey the spirit and essence of the Arabian desert and its people makes "Revolt in the Desert" a compelling read for those interested in military history, Middle Eastern affairs, and Lawrence's remarkable role in shaping the region's destiny.
… (more)
FallsGalloway | 5 other reviews | May 7, 2023 |
A Book which defies easy categorization. Somewhat of a guerilla war manual, or a poetic evocation of such a war, or a self-serving piece of literary expression, or, a plea for the acceptance of Arab centred nationalism in a post Ottoman war.. We readers do earn a certain amount about the major figures of the WWI war in Arabia, but little about the author. The book is best read with the illustratios the publisher commissioned, and as a sensual experience of heat. Not to be missed but I'm not very clear about the point of writing it.… (more)
DinadansFriend | 54 other reviews | May 5, 2023 |
Basado en la película Lawrence de Arabia
FamiliaOrranteTinoco | Sep 10, 2022 |



You May Also Like

Associated Authors


Also by

Charts & Graphs